“Kalia led with passionate intensity and a clear beat…He’s one to watch “
– Long Beach Gazette
Hailed as a conductor who leads with “passionate intensity” and recognized as “one to watch,” Roger Kalia is one of America’s most exciting young conductors. A recipient of a 2013 and 2017 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia is currently the Assistant Conductor of Pacific Symphony and the Music Director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. He began his tenure in 2015, and was recently awarded a two-year contract extension, becoming only the second assistant conductor in Pacific Symphony’s history to receive this honor. Kalia also serves as Co-Founder and Music Director of the Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, the premier musical arts festival in the region. Previously, he served for two seasons as Assistant Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony, where he conducted the orchestra in a variety of performances and invigorated the orchestra’s engagement with the community. Kalia has also held Music Director positions with both the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra and Columbus (IN) Symphony Orchestra, the oldest orchestra in the state and only its fourth music director. In June 2016, Kalia led the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra on a highly successful tour of China, which marked the orchestra’s second international tour and its first to Asia. The orchestra performed sold-out concerts in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall and Shanghai’s Oriental Arts Centre as well as a cultural exchange concert with the Shanghai Nanyang Model School Orchestra, which was broadcasted worldwide on International Channel Shanghai (ICS).
In addition to his current positions, Kalia is in consistent demand as a guest conductor. In the 2017-2018 season, he makes his European subscription debut with the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland, and he will conduct the Bakersfield Symphony on their annual Gala concert. Further recent and upcoming engagements include the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall, Long Beach Symphony, Great Falls Symphony, Owensboro Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, and Adrian Symphony, among others. He has collaborated with such artists as Glenn Dicterow, David Kim, Nikki and Timothy Chooi, Randy Newman, the B-52s, Jack Black, Dan Dunn, Fei-Fei Dong, and Misha Dichter, and has served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony. Kalia has worked in various capacities with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Danish National Symphony, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, among others. Kalia conducted the Memphis Symphony in 2011 after winning Second Prize in their International Conducting Competition, which led to his debut the following season and launched his professional career.
Described as the region’s 21st century “cultural renaissance” by Art in the Adirondacks and as a festival that “has a limitless horizon” by the Glens Falls Chronicle, Kalia serves as Co-Founder and Music Director of the Lake George Music Festival, whose distinguished musicians come from many of North America’s finest orchestras and conservatories. This past summer, Kalia’s concert with the Festival Orchestra in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony was hailed as the “concert of the summer” by the Glens Falls Chronicle. The review goes on to say, “the entire orchestra, under Roger Kalia, were all fantastic, clearly caught up in the moment and launching it and us into a musical bliss…It’s hard to imagine any orchestra anywhere playing Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony better than they played it that night.” Through its unique and innovative artistic collaborations and outreach, the festival was recently voted the Best Annual Event by the City of Lake George and featured in Time Out New York Magazine and Saratoga Living. In the summer of 2016, Kalia created a new and innovative concert series called Sounds of Our Time, which highlights the connections between the popular music of our time and orchestral music. Over the past two seasons the concert series has focused on electronic music, specifically electronic dance music (EDM), by having the Festival Orchestra collaborate with Billboard artists like MAKO and Balún in concerts that combine electronica with symphonic music, one of the first collaborations of its kind. These collaborations have gained national publicity by being featured in the League of American Orchestras The Hub, Broadway World, EDMjoy, the Albany Times Union, and Saratoga Living. The Festival Orchestra has been featured on a variety of radio programs including American Public Media’s Performance Today with Fred Child and WQXR-NY. A strong advocate of music education and audience development, Kalia has helped to develop an annual Family Concert Series and Late Night Concert series that have resulted in numerous grants from a variety of organizations including the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Kalia started his career as Music Director of the YMF Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles (2012-2015), following in the footsteps of such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas and Andre Previn. Kalia led the orchestra in a variety of repertoire from Mozart through music by acclaimed video game and film composers. Highlights of his tenure included four world premieres, collaborations with violinist Glenn Dicterow and pianist Misha Dichter at UCLA’s Royce Hall, a production of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat with actors Jack Black and Michael Lerner at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles premiere of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek Into Darkness at the orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Gala Concert, and a collaboration with the Angel City Chorale of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary. In addition, Kalia led the Debut Orchestra in the orchestra’s first-ever performance at the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral (the largest church in Los Angeles) in December 2012 for the Virgin of Guadalupe Festival with more than 2,000 people in attendance as well as being live-streamed worldwide.
In addition to being a two-time recipient (2017 and 2013) of a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia also held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of their Project Inclusion program, and the 2010 American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, where he worked with Robert Spano. He was also an active participant at the 2011 Conductors Guild Conductor/Composer Training Workshop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, chosen by Marin Alsop. That same year David Zinman invited him to conduct the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in his international conducting masterclass at the Zurich Festspiele. In 2013 Kalia worked with Kurt Masur at his annual Conducting Seminar at the Manhattan School of Music. Passionate about teaching the next generation of musicians, Kalia maintains a regular teaching relationship with the Colburn School and Cal State Fullerton, and has been invited to serve as conductor of the 2018 Missouri All-State Orchestra.
Kalia has commissioned and programmed more than 100 works by some of America’s brightest and innovative composers including Mason Bates, David Lang, Chris Rogerson, Harry Stafylakis, Michael Daugherty, Francisco Cortes, and Paul Chihara, among others. With the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Kalia has expanded the orchestra’s programming by including a number of contemporary works. He led the world premiere of Narong Prangcharoen’s Lighter than Air, which was a featured work on the orchestra’s 2017 China Tour, and he will also conduct the world premiere of Brendan Faegre’s Analog Intelligence and Austin Wintory’s Journey Suite (the first-ever Grammy nominated video game score) during the upcoming season. Kalia recently led Sheridan Seyfried’s “Double Violin Concerto” to rave reviews with the Lake George Music Festival Symphony Orchestra and soloists Nikki and Timmy Chooi, which was the orchestra’s first-ever commissioned work. In 2014, Kalia commissioned Paul Dooley’s Coast of Dreams with the YMF Debut Orchestra, which was featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today with Fred Child, and resulted in a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).
A native of New York, Kalia received his Doctorate from Indiana University, where he served as an Associate Instructor and Assistant Conductor of the IU Opera Theater and New Music Ensemble. He also holds degrees from the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. His primary mentors include David Effron, Arthur Fagen, and Franz Anton Krager.
Roger Kalia resides in Long Beach, California, with his fiancee, musicologist/violinist Christine Wisch, and their dog Burney.